Around the end of the semester of my freshman year in college I began journaling. This was mainly to help me track both mental and physical health progressions. It became very therapeutic and eventually, somewhat of a nightly ritual. It was such an easy way to relax when unwinding for bed or if I was stressed out and needed a study break. Going back over my previous entries and seeing how I've grown and the lessons I've learned over time is not only gratifying, but also very fascinating. This new hobby furthered my interest in psychology, which is now my major.

I kept journaling and even bought a new one specifically for my semester abroad so that I'd have a special place to record all of my favorite memories and what I did on a daily basis. I'm so glad that I have these thoughts written down so that I'll be able to look back on them later. Reading these pages beginning and ending with my departing and returning flights respectively, makes me somewhat emotional when I look back at this journey.

Naturally, journaling alone has improved my writing skills, but, it has also increased my motivation to become a better writer and how to seek creative inspiration. It's furthered my interest in reading, which usually consists of psychological research, lifestyle blogs, and other sources of non-fiction material. I've increased my productivity and have set more lifestyle goals. Having them written down is a great way to hold myself accountable. Also, looking over past mistakes or where things didn't go as planned, you gain a better understanding of how to solve problems in the future. And with journaling, you don't have to just treat it as a diary; you can track your habits (good or bad), keep track of current music you like, track your dreams, make to-do lists, budget,-you get the idea. Journaling is an excellent outlet for creative expression!

And lastly, keeping a journal has brought me to where I am today, writing for The Odyssey. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would begin to take writing so seriously and to enjoy it enough that I'd be comfortable letting anyone see my work, I'd never believe them. I'm really proud of the progressions I've made through journaling and feel that anyone can reap its benefits.